Recognition of Food Allergy
It’s not as widespread in Turkey as they are in the USA and perhaps Europe (which is not saying much, as most Americans and Europeans are not well informed of the danger and possible life-threatening severity of some food allergies).
If anaphylaxis is a danger, you should consider taking Epipens (epinephrine self-injector syringes) with you—but you probably already do that. They are available in Turkish pharmacies (under the name penepin), but knowledge of how to use them is still not commonplace, even from the pharmacist. Epipens available in Turkey also are not identical to those available in the US. When carried with a prescription/doctor’s note, they can be taken on board aircraft and through Turkish customs inspection.
Most Turkish packaged foods are adequately labeled because of export requirements. The labels may be in Turkish only, or in several languages. If you familiarize yourself with the Turkish words for the substances that can cause an allergic reaction (gluten, lamb, milk and milk products, nuts, etc), the labels will be a help.
Processed food contains warnings on labels, but less commonly in English. Common allergens are noted in bold and potential traces of an allergen are denoted with the Turkish phrase eser miktarda ……içerebilir or simply with the ingredients followed by the word içerebilir (may contain).
Menu items at a restaurant are very rarely labeled for allergens. Also, I don’t know how careful Turkish manufacturers or restaurants are about possible cross-contamination of one food product with bits of another.
Turkey has many highly qualified doctors and nurses, but of course it’s impossible to say who might attend in an allergic-reaction crisis situation, or what their qualifications might be.
Food & Medical Terms
Learn the relevant Turkish words for the foods and substances that can cause an allergic reaction, the medicines to treat it, etc. in your particular situation so you’ll be able to help medical personnel in an emergency. Better yet, take a medical card written in Turkish with details about your allergies.
Many Turkish medical terms are borrowed from English or French (such as alerji, pronounced ah-lehr-ZHEE), so you may only have to learn a slightly different pronunciation.
American Hospital in Istanbul
The Amerikan Hastanesi (American Admiral Bristol Hospital) in Nişantaşı, Istanbul, has lots of English-speaking staff (and perhaps a few Americans). They may be a good contact for your further questions.
—by Tom Brosnahan
|All Food Allergies